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notacontractor 08-21-2012 11:34 AM

leaking deck repair

We have a small (350 sf) deck on the second floor of our townhouse. There are three french doors from the home that go out to the deck. The deck covers a portion of the first floor of the home.

Unfortunately, after a recent heavy rain there was a leak on the first floor underneath the area where one of the doors is. We're pretty sure this was caused by poor flashings / weather stripping / seals on the door and poor condition of the deck, where there are some hairline cracks at each plywood seam. The deck surface is some sort of aggregate over plywood. The aggregate was installed about 10 years ago. As you walk across the deck you can hear some squeaking noise, so we think that there may be some loose nails. The water ponds in certain areas.

I interviewed a waterproofing contractor and he gave me several options. No matter which way we go, we need to fix the doors by installing new 90 degree flashings from the deck to the door, adding new bronze sil covers over the flashings, installing door shoes on the doors and new weatherstripping.

1) We can totally replace the deck. Big job.
2) We can just patch the areas with the cracks with several coats of a urethane sealer. Aesthetically this will look ugly, because we'll see the strips. Cheapest but also most short-term solution. We may have to fix it again in 2-3 years.
3) We can add the coats of urethane sealer over the entire deck. Should last 5-10 years.
4) We can use a dexotex system on the entire deck, which is slightly more expensive but will supposedly last longer and is easier to maintain. Should last at least 10 years.

My only concern / issue is that we have a small baby in the house. The contractor mentioned that with urethane (even though this is outside) he'd recommend we'd leave the house for at least a week, since it takes a while for the thing to cure. I'm guessing that the smell could last even longer. Urethane can smell for ages. The Dexotex is water based so it's supposed to be less toxic.

Either way, they also have to grind out some of the existing aggregate in the cracking areas. I'm concerned about dust and since I have no idea of what chemicals are in the existing aggregate, I don't know what kind of dust will get kicked up and spread around. With the dexotex, he said he'd need to grind out the entire deck, whereas with the urethane he'd only need to grind out the cracking areas.

While I need to fix the leak, I also want to find the solution that poses the least risk to our child. That's my primary concern.

Does anyone have any opinions as to whether spot work with urethane (smaller amount of urethane, and less grinding) is better/worse than the dexotex solution (less toxic off gassing, but more grinding). The contractor said he'll tape off our doors with plastic so no dust will get inside. I'm sure that's the case, but then I'm not sure if dust will also fly around the property and get into the grass where our child will play. It's hard to control that kind of stuff outdoors, even if we put plastic covering all over the place (which I'd insist on either way).

Are there any solutions that would minimize grinding and allow a water-based patching solution?

If I patch with urethane now and we need to fix again in several years, would the grinding of the urethane coat also release harmful dust / fumes? Or is urethane only harmful when it's offgassing after initial application?

Perhaps there's not too much to be worried about, but I wanted to see if anyone had any opinions.

I really appreciate your help and advice!

Many thanks.

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